These are, of course, the leanest times in Philadelphia sports. The Flyers and Sixers will both miss this year’s playoffs. The Eagles finished two games behind the stinkin’ Cowboys, and rewarded Chip Kelly by making him emperor of all he can see. And the Phillies? Well, President Pat Gillick proclaimed they may not be contenders until 2018.
Until 2018? Three years?
I’m not arguing with Gillick. In fact, I’d love to fast-forward our sports world to 2018. What are we going to miss – an Olympics or two? Mone Davis dominating high school hoops?
So here’s my question: When 2018 gets here, who will be this city’s best player? Who’s our future Iverson, McNabb, Halladay or Lindros? Who’s the next to win an MVP?
Let’s go team by team.
I’d bet not more than a half-dozen players from last season’s roster will even be here in 2018. Unfortunately, two of them may be Dom Brown and Ben Revere.
So who’ll be their best? Ken Giles may evolve into an all-star closer, but I can’t give it to a guy throwing 70 innings. Mikael Franco fielded better than expected, but still hasn’t learned to hit.
It says here the best of the next generation is either pitcher Aaron Nola or 20-year-old shortstop prospect J.P. Crawford. I’ll pick Crawford, currently baseball’s 32nd-best prospect. If you really want to see the future, head to Reading this season. They’ll both be there.
Connor McDavid. Just kidding. Right now, the Flyers have a 3.5 percent chance of landing hockey’s next can’t-miss superstar. Just slightly better than my odds for winning that $500 million lottery earlier this month.
The best of 2018 is already here: Claude Giroux, now 27, or Jakub Voracek, 25. I’ll give it to Giroux, the more complete package. Here’s hoping, however, there’s a defenseman whose name is even worth mentioning three years from now.
I’ll defer to my friend, Ray Didinger, who nominates Fletcher Cox as the king of all future Eagles. The kid is ascending and could be football’s top defensive tackle by 2018. Mychel Kendricks gets consideration from me. And maybe Jordan Matthews.
But my heart? My heart says I’d love to see Nick Foles be that guy. And I hope Marcus Mariota enjoys Cleveland.
The most interesting team, to be honest. The most possibilities. . . Dario Saric, Nerlens Noel, Michael Carter-Williams. If I were laying down real money (and there ought to be a prop bet for this), I’d bank it all on Joel Embiid.
Embiid, 20, is seven feet tall and will score down low. He’s also a natural athlete with a smooth mid-range game. At least that’swhat we’re promised. He has to get healthy and stay healthy.
In fact, put my money on Embiid as Philadelphia’s next MVP. Now, who have you got?